Exercise can help reduce breast cancer treatment side effects


A recent study found that exercise may make radiotherapy more tolerable for patients with breast cancer.

The study, published in the journal, Breast Cancer, was conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Joondalup, Australia. According authors, while effective, radiotherapy can lead to intense fatigue and impact patients’ social, emotional, and physical wellbeing. For their study, investigators set out to discover whether exercise could reduce the severity of the side effects of radiotherapy for breast cancer.

Researchers recruited 89 women for the investigation, 43 of which were assigned a home-based 12-week program. The program included weekly exercise regimes of one or two resistance training sessions and around 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise. The rest of the 46 women did not participate in any exercise program.

Results showed participants who exercised had a quicker recovery from their cancer-related fatigue during and after radiotherapy compared to those who did not exercise. The control group saw no significant increase in health-related quality of life after their radiotherapy.

According to study supervisor Robert Newton, PhD, professor of Exercise Medicine at ECU, these results suggest that combining aerobic and resistance exercise during radiotherapy is a safe and effective strategy to relieve symptoms of radiotherapy at home.

“A home-based protocol might be preferable for patients, as it is low-cost, does not require travel or in-person supervision and can be performed at a time and location of the patient’s choosing,” he said. “These benefits may provide substantial comfort to patients.”